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The Irrelevant NATO Status of Forces’ Agreement


President Hamid Karzai intends to pursue talks on an agreement with the NATO paving the way for the alliance to plan a post-2014 presence in Afghanistan. According to the reports, Karzai has decided at a meeting of the Afghan National Security Council that the agreement with NATO should be quickly finalized, the government said. Karzai’s call on NATO to speed up the negotiations on ‘Status of Forces’ comes at a time when Afghanistan and the United States are at loggerheads over the bilateral security agreement which would allow the US to keep a portion of its troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

President Karzai’s attempt to make a security deal with NATO seems quite irrelevant and distracting to the public. As a matter of fact, any agreement between Afghanistan and NATO, in principle, would be based on the terms of the security agreement between Kabul and Washington. In other words, the agreement on Status of Forces with NATO would be a part of a broader security agreement with the Western alliance which is represented and led by the United States. On the other hand, NATO officials have made it clear that there would be no deal with Afghanistan until there is a security agreement finalized between Afghanistan and the United States.

Technically, Afghanistan will not be able to achieve a meaningful agreement with NATO to decide on ‘Status of Forces’ of the alliance through 2024. First, Afghanistan should manage to settle the disagreements with the United States and finalize the BSA. Therefore, any demands from Afghanistan to NATO seems to be irrelevant and any expectations unrealistic. If the government of Afghanistan needs to have a deal with NATO in place for the alliance’s continued support, it should act and make compromises over the preconditions set for signing the BSA.

Here, Hamid Karzai’s attempt to move quickly to achieve a deal with NATO seems to be an attempt to bypass the United States and continue to refuse signing the bilateral security agreement. Karzai seems determined in refusing the sign the agreement with the US despite the public pressures and the broad demand form Afghan political spectrum to the sign the deal. Recently, President Karzai has once again lashed out at Americans, saying that he saw the US as a ‘rival’ while the Taliban as brothers. His move urging the NATO alliance to finalize the security agreement with Afghanistan could also be a tactical move in his continuation of refusing to the sign the agreement with Washington.

Any further delay in signing the Bilateral Security Agreement will make no good of the ongoing affairs for Afghanistan. With the election campaigns kicked off, uncertainty over the future of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan will create the same uncertainty for the election and its security. Leading the practice amidst the uncertainty will have considerable adverse effects on the process. In fact, the percent of the election is crucially important for its overall legitimacy and public acceptance. Therefore, the BSA is needed to be finalized quickly to have the propitious environment for the elections and the overall stability of the country. The finalization of the agreement on status of NATO forces would the next step.

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